When Stamp Fairtex competes for the interim ONE Championship atomweight title on Friday, she does so with the uncertainty of whether she’ll ever get an opportunity to unify the belt.
Reigning ONE atomweight champion Angela Lee hasn’t fought since October 2022 and most recently defending her title against Stamp in March 2022. Lee recently revealed she’s dealing with mental health issues; her 18-year-old sister, Victoria Lee, died by suicide this past December. With questions surrounding the champ’s return, ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong introduced an interim atomweight title.
Despite not knowing whether or not Lee will return, Stamp offered nothing but unconditional praise for her former opponent.
“I just support her,” said Stamp, who faces UFC veteran Seo Hee Ham at ONE Fight Night 14 on Friday. “If she wants to come back to fight, that’s OK. If she doesn’t want to fight again, that’s OK. Because she is still my idol, and I still support her.”
While the term “undisputed” won’t be attached to Stamp’s fight, she still understands the magnitude of a moment like this, especially if Lee opts not to fight again.
“Obviously it’s an interim title, but it’s still very important,” Stamp explained. “If Angela Lee comes back, the winner will fight for the real belt. If she doesn’t come back, Chatri [Sityodtong] will probably bring up the interim title winner as the official title winner.”
Winning the interim title would also make Stamp the first fighter in ONE Championship history to claim belts across three different disciplines after previously winning gold in Muay Thai and kickboxing. It’s a particularly special achievement for her considering her relative naivety about MMA.
“I only found out about MMA six years ago,” she revealed. “For me, it’s a real feeling of pride to get here within six years, not knowing the sport. There’s also pride to be a Thai woman that wins an MMA belt in a sport that is very, very new to me.”
“It was good experience,” Stamp said. “It was good experience, because Angela Lee is a black belt [in Brazilian jiu-jitsu], so it was a real lesson there. I was able to fight a BJJ black belt, and it was also a very strong lesson because I learned about Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and that I needed to develop it a lot more in my fight game.”
Friday marks Stamp’s second attempt at becoming an ONE atomweight champion. While she believes nothing will measure up to the moment she fought Lee the first time, the interim belt is a start.
“This time with Seo Hee Ham, it’s pressure also, but it’s not the same kind of pressure,” she said. “Because I’m not fighting my idol again. [This time] it’s an opportunity to prove myself, to get better. It’s just a great opportunity.”
This article was originally published on www.mmafighting.com